A Diary of Chuji’s Travels shows a great director identifying with his rebel protagonist by employing subtle humor and every subterfuge of cinematic invention to “capture” his audience; in short, it’s a knockout. Daisuke Ito was the first director to raise the genre of the outlaw hero to an avant-garde form, as critic and author Tadao Sato notes: “[Ito] combined adept storytelling with a rapid succession of images brimming with beauty and pathos, and the impassioned performance of his favorite lead, Denjiro Okochi.” Chuji’s outlaw society has the courtly elements of loyalty and betrayal, choreographed action and elegiac romance, all played out of doors and ragtag. This film was made as a triptych; what survives – an episode from the second part and about half of the third part, including the finale – conveys a full experience of the plot, mood, and motifs of the epic original, a principled but doomed antihero’s journey. —Judy Bloch
Born October 12, 1898, in Uwajima, Ehime, Daisuke Ito was one of the top directors and screenwriters of his time in Japan. Often regarded as the “Father of Jidaigeki (period drama),” he particularly laid his bricks in samurai cinema, building the foundation of modern jidaigeki from the era of silent film (his first screenplay was produced in 1921), to his final film in 1971.
During his early filmmaking days in the silent era, he was known for his mobile camera style, and earned himself the nickname “Ido DAISUKE” (“I LOVE Motion”), a pun on “Ito Daisuke.” Over his many years of filmmaking, he worked with such legendary stars as Kinnosuke NAKAMURA, Raizo ICHIKAWA, Shintaro KATSU, Denjiro OKOCHI, and Tsumasaburo BANDO. The director of Samurai Vendetta, Kazuo Mori, was also a beloved student of Daisuke Ito.
As a director, he’s perhaps best known for his award-winning Hangyakuji, a.k.a. Conspirator (1961), and Benten Kozo, a.k.a. The Gay Masquerade (1958). As a writer, he’s… read more